The Download Blog

Featured Freeware: VLC media player

When it comes to video files, nothing is ever as easy as it should be. Thankfully, VLC media player offers a one-stop solution to the file-format and codec problem for Windows, Mac, and thumbdrives with a portable version. The open-source program supports playback of OGG, MP2, MP3, MP4, DivX, DVD, and what seems like thousands of other file types. In addition, it also can function as a streaming media server.

Though the interface varies from platform to platform, the sparseness of the standard version leaves plenty to be desired. Some skins perks things up slightly, but the program seems to … Read more

The Webware 100 winners

We still might not exactly be able to define "Web 2.0," but we certainly know it when we see it. The CNET Download.com team has been gradually building a catalog of more than 2,300 editorially selected Web-based software products in categories such as Audio, Bookmarking, Security, and Social Networking.

Almost everyone uses a Web-based e-mail client like Yahoo Mail, Gmail, or Hotmail, and I know that many users are shifting from Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice.org Calc to Google Docs & Spreadsheets for their basic spreadsheet needs, or for sharing documents with friends, family, and … Read more

First Look: IrfanView 4.1

IrfanView has long been one of the more popular freeware image-editing applications on CNET Download.com, and with good reason. Other than the fact that everyone loves freeware, IrfanView comes in multiple languages and packages a range of features to draw in beginners and keep the more advanced users interested.

You also can't discount the lovably homegrown interface that, to me, anyway, underscores the app's birthright as one developer's pet project (it matches well with the author's photos of his Bosnian hometown on IrfanView's Web site.) This video takes a quick look at IrfanView 1.… Read more

FreeMobile411 to one-up Yahoo's voice search?

At CTIA 2008 in Las Vegas, Yahoo's executive vice president of Connected Life, Marco Boerries, demonstrated with great enthusiasm the newest feature to grace its mobile search tool: voice input. The technique, which asks users to press and hold a key while speaking their lookup request, is already active in Windows Live Search Mobile. Yahoo, however, hasn't released it beyond a preview. On Tuesday, one ankle-biting competitor jumped into the ring with its version of voice search.

FreeMobile411, which was itself just released in WAP form on April 11 (4/11--sigh), announced a Java version that adds the … Read more

Kannuu woos developers with SDKs

When my colleague, Webware.com Editor Josh Lowensohn, first looked at Kannuu, an alternative platform for inputting search queries into a specific database or device, he astutely noted that, in order for any keyboard alternative to succeed, "it's not end users you have to convince...It's the device manufacturers. And they're chicken."

Kannuu is having some luck in that respect, CEO Sean-Michael Daley said in a demo at CNET headquarters. Now the company's setting out to win the hearts of independent developers, whom Daley would like to see integrating Kannuu's unconventional five-button face … Read more

Featured Freeware: Audacity

With so many audio editors out there, finding the right tool for the job can be tricky. Available from CNET Download.com for Windows, Mac, and even in Mac and PC portable editions, open-source Audacity sits at the top of our list for its clean interface, excellent features, and support of 32-bit floating-point audio. Audacity succeeds at being both feature-rich and flexible, while keeping the toolbar and work space uncluttered. It does this by relegating most functions--such as effects, edits, and project management--to handy drop-down menus.

Audacity supports uncompressed audio standards such as WAV and AIFF in addition to OGG … Read more

Featured Freeware: uTorrent

This torrent utility is simultaneously one of the easiest to use but also one of the most robust. The uTorrent executable adds a directory and some option information to your PC, but it is still small enough to run off an old USB key. It leaves a minuscule memory footprint, barely touching system resources. What it does hog is your Internet pipeline, but that's easy enough to adjust to your needs with built-in throttling features.

Included are both a torrent search bar that links to MiniNova and a handy RSS feed download function. Subscribe to select feeds, and uTorrent … Read more

Featured Freeware: AbiWord

This free, open-source word-processor strikes us as a worthy alternative to pricey, big-name products. AbiWord has a quick learning curve, since the interface is very similar to other word processors. You'll find just about all the features you need, including the ability to cut and paste, to highlight, as well a bevy of common formatting tools.

Although we did miss a grammar-checking utility, AbiWord can check your spelling in many languages--you'll need to choose the appropriate foreign language dictionaries during installation. A huge plus is the ability to open and save Microsoft Word documents, though the program also … Read more

Featured Freeware: FastStone Image Viewer

The FastStone Image Viewer is a good find for a multipurpose image tool. Although the main interface looks too cluttered with buttons at first glance, the three main windows are intuitive enough once get your bearings and several included skins make it easy on the eyes.

Clicking a thumbnail puts a larger view of the shot in the lower-left pane, and you zoom in simply by dragging the mouse around. You can resize, crop, remove red-eye, and adjust color, brightness, and contrast. You'll also find a few simple effects and filters, including Lens, Waves, and Morphs. Other nifty features … Read more

Power Downloader caffeinates his HTML with CoffeeCup

With the advent of blogs and blog-tool plug-ins, the burning need for Web design at home has dulled somewhat. Power Downloader knows that good custom design is still appreciated, though, and this week he brings you a program that excels at helping home users achieve their Web design desires. CoffeeCup HTML Editor 2008 is suitable for design newbies, HTML hotshots, and everyone in between. The latest version introduces a new CSS and HTML autocompletion tool to join CoffeeCup's well-known WYSIWYG and standard HTML editors.

It continues to offer powerful features melded to a straightforward and compact interface that is … Read more